Rookie QB review: RGIII, Andrew Luck put their teams in the NFL playoff picture

Patrick Smith

Can a pair of rookie quarterbacks take their teams to the postseason?

On Sunday, Redskins rookie phenom Robert Griffin III threw four touchdowns on just 15 total attempts, raising the bar just a little higher for efficiency and effectiveness. He made quarterbacking look far easier than it should, setting an impossible standard for the rest of the league's young signal callers to live up to.

More: NFL Debrief | Injury report | Takeaways, Week 11 | NFL scores

A week off must have been just the thing for RGIII and the Redskins, cooling heels after three straight losses. RGIII turned in the best performance of his rookie season so far and Washington won its first game in a month. All RGIII did was complete 14-of-15 passes for four touchdowns and 200 yards. He also ran the ball 12 times for another 84 yards that you probably forgot all about in the wake of his impressive passing performance.

Don't let the Eagles' decision to roll over and play dead do anything to tarnish RGIII's performance.

Just how good was his passing performance? Perfect. No, really, it was absolutely perfect in the eyes of the league's bizarre quarterback rating stat. RGIII came out of the game with a 158.3 passer rating. He was the first quarterback score perfect while throwing four touchdown passes since Steve Young in 1994.

Perfect scores and a qualifying number of touchdown passes? Sure, it's a strange categorization, but you get that the Steve Young comparisons are very real. And RGIII is very good. Good thing the Rams, who lost to the Jets this week, opted for a heaping helping of draft picks instead of a sensation that would both win games and sell tickets. But, hey, draft picks!



Up the coast from Washington, Andrew Luck came crashing back to Earth. Gone was the kid who stunned the Packers. Beating New England, right as Bill Belichick's team appears to be hitting its stride, was always a stretch. The Colts defense was no match for a team capable of calling up touchdowns by the bunch, making Luck's job that much more difficult.

That said, the league's other rookie sensation had a few hiccups of his own. Luck was 27-for-50 with 334 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

New England erased Indianapolis' 14-7 lead in the second quarter when Julian Edelman returned a punt for a touchdown. On the series after that, Luck threw the first of his three picks when he missed Reggie Wayne on a deep shot over the middle. Newly acquired cornerback Aqib Talib returned it for a touchdown, giving the Patriots a lead they never relinquished.

Chalk it up to a learning experience for Luck, who still managed to complete his fifth game this season with 300+ passing yards, a fantastic statistic for a rookie in his situation.



There are less than two months left in the season. The playoffs are in sight, and both Luck and RGIII have a very real shot at making the postseason. A pair of rookie quarterbacks are the only reason either of those teams are relevant this year.

Rookie QB Power Rankings

1. RGIII, Redskins - Washington's playoff hopes hinge on the New York Giants and the situation in the NFC East. RGIII et al play at Dallas next week. A win there would give Washington a leg up for second place, setting up a meaningful Week 13 home game against the Giants.

2. Andrew Luck, Colts - Give this man a "hang-in there" kitten poster. A wildcard berth seems very likely, and Luck should have no problems getting through the last six games of the schedule. Indianapolis plays four teams with losing records down the stretch. The Colts have a home and home series with the Texans that suddenly looks more intriguing after the Jaguars (the Jaguars!) nearly pulled off an upset.

3. Brandon Weeden, Browns - Cleveland nearly pulled off an upset too, though how much of an upset is beating the Cowboys, even for the Browns? He was 20-for-35 with 210 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Weeden was the best quarterback on the field in that game.

4. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins - Is it a rookie wall or are opponents just figuring out the Dolphins? Probably a little bit of both. Tannehill has struggled since an easy win in Week 6 over the Rams. In four games since then, one of which was shortened by a deep thigh bruise, the A&M product has thrown five picks and just two touchdowns, failing to complete more than 60 percent of his passes in any of those games.

5. Nick Foles, Eagles - Hey, did you know Foles was playing this week? You probably did, but forgot all about him in the middle of RGIII's historic day. Tasked with being part of an elaborate excuse for the next team to hire Andy Reid, Foles ended his first two drives with interceptions. At least those were the only two picks he threw.

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